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NFL levies more than $1 million in fines for violating mask rules: Report

Last week, the NFL
threatened coaches who ignore the league’s mask rules on the sidelines during games.

This week, EPSN
reported, the NFL’s higher-ups followed through on that threat and handed out more than $1 million in fines Monday.

What happened?

After week 1 of the season, NFL vice president of football operations Troy Vincent sent a
stern memo to every team with a reminder that they are required to follow league edicts on mask-wearing.

“[W]e must remain vigilant and disciplined in following the processes and protocols put in place by not only the league, union and clubs, but also by state and local governments,” he said.

“The NFL-NFLPA Game Day Protocol, which reflects the advice of infectious disease experts, club medical staffs and local and state governmental regulations requires all individuals with bench area access (including coaches and members of the club medical staff) to wear face coverings at all times,” Vincent continued.

Players — including players who see little to no action — are exempt from the mask requirements.

“Failure to adhere to this requirement will result in accountability measures being imposed against offending individuals and/or clubs,” he warned.

Turns out he was serious about this.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Monday night that the league fined three head coaches $100,000 each for failing to wear masks during week 2 games Sunday. The three coaches are Seattle’s Pete Carroll, San Franciso’s Kyle Shanahan, and Denver’s Vic Fangio.

And to make sure the message was sent, the NFL also fined each coach’s team an additional $250,000, Schefter said during halftime of the Monday Night Football matchup between the New Orleans Saints and the Las Vegas Raiders.

Following that game, at least two more coaches and their teams could be added to NFL’s list of targets. Raiders coach Jon Gruden wore his face mask around his chin during the game, while Saints coach Sean Payton wore his gaiter around his neck.

Gruden apologized after the game, ESPN said, and revealed he had had COVID already:

Following the Raiders’ 34-24 win over the Saints on Monday night, Gruden, who last week said he felt the league’s memo was directed at him, revealed he’d had COVID-19 and apologized for violating the rules.

“I’m doing my best,” Gruden said. “I’ve had the virus. I’m doing my best. I’m very sensitive about it … I’m calling plays. I just wanna communicate in these situations, and if I get fined, I’ll have to pay the fine, but I’m very sensitive about that and I apologize.”

Sean Payton, like Gruden, was seen in week 1 not wearing a mask. And like Gruden, USA Today
reported, Payton has had COVID. In fact, the paper said, he was the “first known NFL figure to test positive.”

Asked about the week 1 mask-wearing hubbub, Payton noted to ESPN’s Suzy Kolber that “as a play caller, you’re allowed to pull it down while you’re calling a play.” To which Kolber quickly added, “but then you need to push it back up.”

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Pittsburgh Steelers player says decision to honor Antwon Rose on helmet came from management, but team says otherwise

The decision by the Pittsburgh Steelers to honor a teen fatally shot by a police officer and allegedly involved in a drive-by shooting appears to have created disruption and controversy.

Two Steelers players have already declared that they will not pay tribute to the Antwon Rose Jr., and now another Pittsburgh player revealed that management decided who the players would honor on their helmet. Previously, the team said that players and coaches were united on the name that would be written on the back of helmets, but it seems that might not have been the case.

During a Zoom call with media on Thursday, Steelers safety Minkah Fitzpatrick was asked about the team’s decision to use helmets to deliver social justice signaling. Fitzpatrick said that the decision to honor Rose came from the Steelers’ front office and not players.

“It was made from people upstairs and everything else like that,” Fitzpatrick said in the interview. “Don’t know exactly who. Don’t know exactly how. But we did. We knew that we were going to have somebody on the back of our helmets, and it wasn’t exactly clear on what it was going to be. It was mostly made by everyone upstairs.”

This contradicts what the Steelers said earlier this week about the helmet gesture.

“This year the NFL is allowing players to wear helmet decals to honor victims of systemic racism,” the Steelers website stated on Monday. “Players could select the name of an individual to wear on their helmet and the Steelers players and coaches united as one to wear a single name on the back of their helmets and hats for the entire 2020 season — Antwon Rose Jr.”

When the Steelers played the New York Giants on Monday night, the players had the name “Antwon Rose Jr.” on the back of their helmets. All the Steelers had Rose’s name on their helmets except for Pittsburgh offensive lineman and West Point graduate Alejandro Villanueva. He decided to honor the late Alwyn Cashe, a soldier who saved fellow servicemen and was posthumously awarded the Silver Star Medal, the third-highest award for valor in combat.

On Thursday, Steelers center and co-captain Maurkice Pouncey announced that he would not be wearing Rose’s name on his helmet this season.

“I was given limited information on the situation regarding Antwon, and I was unaware of the whole story surrounding his death and what transpired during the trial following the tragedy,” Pouncey said. “I should have done more research to fully understand what occurred in its entirety.

“Moving forward, I will make my own decision about what to wear on the back of my helmet,” Pouncey added. “Make no mistake, I am against racism and I believe the best thing I can do is to continue helping repair relationships between the police and their communities. Systemic racism issues have occurred in our country for too long, and that needs to stop.”

Rose was reportedly involved in a drive-by shooting in 2018. Then-17-year-old Rose and his friend Zaijuan Hester were pulled over because they were in a vehicle that matched the description of a car that was used in a drive-by shooting that injured two people minutes earlier.

The two teens fled after they were pulled over by East Pittsburgh Police Officer Michael Rosfeld. The officer shot Rose three times. Rose died from the gunshot injuries.

Hester pleaded guilty to charges related to the drive-by shooting, and was sentenced to 6 to 22 years in prison. Rosfeld was acquitted by a jury and found not guilty of homicide charges in the death of Rose.

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Pittsburgh Steelers co-captain goes against NFL, will decide who he honors on his helmet

Pittsburgh Steelers center and co-captain Maurkice Pouncey announced that he would decide whose name is on the back of his helmet, not who the Steelers or the NFL tell him to honor. Pouncey is going against the league, which is honoring a victim of a police shooting, who was also reportedly involved in a drive-by shooting.

On Monday, the Steelers announced that every player would wear a helmet decal honoring Antwon Rose Jr.

“This year the NFL is allowing players to wear helmet decals to honor victims of systemic racism,” the Steelers website stated. “Players could select the name of an individual to wear on their helmet and the Steelers players and coaches united as one to wear a single name on the back of their helmets and hats for the entire 2020 season – Antwon Rose Jr.”

“On the night of June 19, 2018, the car Antwon Rose Jr., who is black, was a passenger in was pulled over by the East Pittsburgh Police,” the website reads. “While the driver was being handcuffed on suspicion of being involved in an incident that happened earlier that evening, a frightened Rose fled from the car. The cell phone video a bystander captured showed Rose running, and then you could hear gunshots and see as he was fatally shot in the back three times by a white East Pittsburgh Police Officer.”

The Steelers played the New York Giants on Monday night. The Pittsburgh players, including Pouncey, had the name “Antwon Rose Jr.” on the back of their helmets. On Thursday, Pouncey announced that he regretted wearing the tribute and would not wear Antwon Rose’s name on the back of his helmet for the rest of the season.

“I was given limited information on the situation regarding Antwon, and I was unaware of the whole story surrounding his death and what transpired during the trial following the tragedy,” said Pouncey, who was named the Steelers’ 2019 nominee as the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award for “exceptional character and work off the football field.” “I should have done more research to fully understand what occurred in its entirety.”

“My work with the police, both in Pittsburgh and back home in Florida, is well documented,” the Pittsburgh lineman said. “I don’t always feel the need to highlight what I do with the police departments, but I also want to make sure they understand I inadvertently supported a cause of which I did not fully comprehend the entire background of the case. I take responsibility for not doing more investigating into something that is sensitive to the community and his family, but it is a lesson learned as it relates to political issues that occur every day in our society.

“Moving forward, I will make my own decision about what to wear on the back of my helmet,” Pouncey continued. “Make no mistake, I am against racism and I believe the best thing I can do is to continue helping repair relationships between the police and their communities. Systemic racism issues have occurred in our country for too long, and that needs to stop.”

“My focus will continue to be on helping the police in our communities, and I will support making any necessary changes to help those efforts,” the statement concluded.

The “whole story” that Pouncey is alluding to is that the Steelers did not mention that Rose was reportedly in a vehicle matching the description of a car that had been involved in a drive-by shooting that happened about 10 minutes before Rose was shot. Rose’s friend, Zaijuan Hester, allegedly fired a gun from the rear passenger side of a gold Chevy Cruz, shooting Thomas Cole Jr. in the abdomen, and hitting William Ross in the leg with shrapnel, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Officer Michael Rosfeld pulled over the vehicle on suspicion of carrying out the drive-by shooting. A witness video of the incident shows Hester and Rose run away from the officer. Rosfeld fired three shots, all of them hit Rose; striking him in the face, elbow, and the back, according to Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala Jr.

Rose was unarmed at the time of the shooting, according to police. Daniel Wolfe, a scientist with the Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s Office, said gunshot residue was found on Rose’s hand. But it could have come from Rosfeld’s weapon.

There were two guns on the floor of the car. There was a 9 mm Glock 26 handgun with 16 rounds in the magazine that holds 17 rounds. The other gun was a .40-caliber Glock 22 with a live round in the chamber and an extended magazine with 18 rounds.

Rose had an empty 9 mm ammunition magazine in his pocket, which matched the 9 mm pistol in the car. Shell casings found at the scene of the drive-by shooting matched the .40-caliber Glock 22 pistol, according to police.

Hester, who was 17 at the time of the crime, pleaded guilty on March 15, 2019, to charges related to the drive-by shooting, including three counts of aggravated assault and four firearms charges. In exchange for the plea, prosecutors dropped a charge of attempted homicide. Hester was sentenced to 6 to 22 years in prison.

Rosfeld testified that he thought one of the teens had turned and pointed a gun at him. On March 22, Rosfeld was acquitted by a jury and found not guilty of homicide charges in the death of Antwon Rose.

For the past three seasons, Pouncey donated Steelers tickets to the Pittsburgh police so they could take young people from city neighborhoods to football games and enjoy a pregame tailgate party. Pouncey hopes the experience can build trust between young people and police officers.

“I think sometimes the message gets blurred some with some of the incidents,” Pouncey said. “The things we do in the community, and how Pittsburgh is, how involved they are in bringing up the youth and making sure everyone knows they do a lot of great things. To bring up the kids that way is awesome.”

“This gives the kids a chance to see the police beyond the uniform,” Pouncey added. “They are human. They are great people. They have kids and family members too. Just because they wear a badge you shouldn’t look at them a certain way. They are a lot of great people that help with a lot of great causes.”

Pouncey wasn’t the only Pittsburgh player to object to honoring Antwon Rose Jr. on their helmet. Fellow Steelers offensive lineman Alejandro Villanueva paid tribute to Alwyn Cashe, a U.S. Army sergeant who died while serving in Iraq in 2005.

Cashe was in a Bradley Fighting Vehicle that hit an improvised explosive device during a patrol in Samarra, Iraq. He exited the vehicle with minor injuries, but when he saw there were injured soldiers in the burning vehicle, he went back to save them.

Cashe helped to rescue all six soldiers from the fiery vehicle and extracted the body of an interpreter killed by the IED. He was able to save the soldiers while under small arms fire. Cashe suffered severe burns on 72% of his body. He succumbed to his injuries and died on Nov. 8, 2005, at the San Antonio Military Medical Center in Texas. Cashe was posthumously awarded the Silver Star.

The NFL has said that only pre-approved names could appear on helmets and would be reserved for victims of racial injustice. Cashe was not on the NFL’s pre-approved list.

The mother of Antwon Rose, Michelle Kenney, criticized Villanueva for not wearing her son’s name on his helmet.

“The Pittsburgh Steelers took a team vote. Obviously one person didn’t like the results so they chose to do something different,” Kenney wrote on Facebook. “I have nothing against vets and absolutely appreciate everything that they have done and continue to do for us. But this one person showed us exactly who he is and obviously he didn’t approve of how the vote turned out.”

In July, Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Stephon Tuitt said that he would not be kneeling during the national anthem. “I’m not kneeling for the flag and screw anybody who have [sic] a problem with that,” he said.

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NFL player covers name of police shooting victim on helmet in favor of Army vet killed in Iraq — and shooting victim’s mother is irate

Pittsburgh Steelers offensive lineman Alejandro Villanueva is no stranger to controversy.

You might recall almost exactly three years ago when Villanueva — a former Army Ranger who served three tours in Afghanistan — stood alone on the field for the national anthem while the rest of the team stayed in the locker room.

It was the fall of 2017, and President Donald Trump — barely a year into his first term — was angry at players taking a knee in protest of police brutality against minorities, a movement that began the previous season with then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

Prior to Villanueva standing on the field for the national anthem, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said his entire team would stay in the locker room to help them avoid politics. The next day Villanueva said he regretted his gesture because it made the rest of his team look bad.

Now what?

It’s now the fall of 2020, and football players taking a knee for the national anthem seems decidedly mild compared to the strident social justice stances professional athletes, teams, and leagues are taking in the wake of recent minority deaths at the hands of police and the wave of protests that have gripped the country.

In that vein, the NFL has allowed players to wear helmet decals honoring victims of “systemic racism,” CBS Sports reported, adding that the Steelers decided as a team to honor for an entire season police shooting victim Antwon Rose Jr. — a black teenager shot in the back by a white police officer in Pittsburgh in 2018 after he ran from a pulled-over vehicle. The network said the now-former officer was charged with murder, but a jury found him not guilty in March 2019.

But Villanueva had something different in mind.

For the Steelers’ game against the New York Giants on Monday, he covered Rose’s name on the back of his helmet in favor of the name Alwyn Cashe, an Army sergeant who died after trying to rescue soldiers from a burning vehicle in Iraq in 2005, CBS Sports said.

Tomlin said Tuesday he gave Villanueva permission to break ranks with his teammates and that it was “in line with everything we’ve said about participating in social justice this offseason,” TribLive reported.

“As an organization, and myself as the head coach of the organization, we’re going to support our players however they chose to participate and express themselves, or to not participate or not express themselves, as long as they do so thoughtfully and with class,” Tomlin also said, according to CBS Sports, adding that Villanueva’s choice didn’t warrant an explanation.

Shooting victim’s mom is angry

It appears, however, that Rose’s mother wants an explanation — because she isn’t happy with what Villanueva did.

“The Pittsburgh Steelers took a team vote,” Michelle Kenney wrote on Facebook, according to TribLive. “Obviously, one person didn’t like the results, so they chose to do something different.”

Kenney had praised the team for choosing to place her son’s name on their helmets, saying it “means more to me than anything,” but that feeling appears to be gone.

“I have nothing against vets and absolutely appreciate everything that they have done and continue to do for us,” Kenney also wrote, TribLive said. “But this one person showed us exactly who he is, and obviously he didn’t approve of how the vote turned out.”

Rose’s mother also wrote that she will use what she deemed as “negative press” as motivation to “hold the Pittsburgh Steelers even more accountable,” the outlet reported.

“Yes, I believe in second chances, but as we all know I believe in putting in the work and that’s how I base my collaborations,” Kenney wrote, according to TribLive. “They came to me as a team/organization and I don’t care how good of an individual you are, if you are not a TEAM player, then maybe you are playing for the wrong team.”

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NFL threatens coaches who ignore mask rules on the sidelines

With week 1 of the NFL season nearly in the books (two Monday night games are yet to be played), the league is threatening coaches who fail to comply with newly installed COVID protocols.

What happened?

Before the 2020-21 NFL season began, the league issued COVID protocols requiring everyone with access to each team’s bench area — except players — to wear face coverings at all times. Coaches and staff are allowed to don masks, face shields, or neck gaiters.

After some personnel were seen on television not wearing masks or wearing them improperly, including L.A. Rams head coach Sean McVay, Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll, and New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton, the league published a warning for all coaches and staff: Comply with the mask requirements or face discipline.

NFL vice president of football operations Troy Vincent sent a stern memo to every team Monday morning with a reminder that they are required to follow league edicts and state and local government regulations, NFL Network reporter Tom Pelissero
revealed.

Vincent began by praising teams for doing what they could to make the season possible, then quickly shifted to reprimand mode: “[W]e must remain vigilant and disciplined in following the processes and protocols put in place by not only the league, union and clubs, but also by state and local governments.”

“The NFL-NFLPA Game Day Protocol, which reflects the advice of infectious disease experts, club medical staffs and local and state governmental regulations requires all individuals with bench area access (including coaches and members of the club medical staff) to wear face coverings at all times,” Vincent continued.

Then came the threat — though he never made clear what the consequences would be.

“Failure to adhere to this requirement will result in accountability measures being imposed against offending individuals and/or clubs,” he warned.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter
reported that if disregard for the mask protocol continues, “fines will ensue.”

Speaking of face shields…

Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid chose to wear a face shield for his team’s season opener against the Houston Texans on Thursday. Though he did follow protocol during the game, his face covering was a popular point of discussion as the game wore on and his face shield continued to fog up.

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Baltimore Ravens players stand for black national anthem — then take a knee when ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ is played

Many Baltimore Ravens players stood during the playing of “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing,” known as the black national anthem, before Sunday’s game against the Cleveland Browns — then took a knee when the U.S. national anthem was played, according to Outkick.

The NFL is playing the black national anthem before all of its opening week games as a part of its anti-racism initiatives, which include social justice messaging in the end zones and around the stadiums, as well as pregame presentations.

Playing “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing” has caused some division among players on different teams, however, as they try to decide whether to stand for both anthems, kneel for both, or remain off the field until the anthems are completed.

The Miami Dolphins announced Thursday that they would be staying in the locker room for both anthems, because they didn’t want to participate in the NFL’s “fluff and empty gestures.”

The Houston Texans did the same before their Thursday night game, with Texans safety Michael Thomas saying they made the decision because they didn’t want to be divisive by protesting one anthem and not the other.

“And today, going out for either anthem — to us, it would’ve been a distraction,” Thomas said according to ESPN. “And we just wanted to, again, make a decision as a team, and we decided it would probably be best if we all stayed in. And that’s the decision we made, and we were just going to go out there and play.”

Regardless of what the NFL’s intentions may have been for including “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing” in its pregame ceremonies, it has created a dilemma for some players and supporters who have insisted that kneeling during the national anthem is not a specifically anti-American gesture; that stance becomes harder to defend when players stand for a black national anthem and kneel for the U.S. anthem.

The originator of anthem kneeling, former quarterback Colin Kaepernick, doesn’t approve of any of the league’s social justice efforts. The quarterback-turned-activist referred to it as “propaganda.”

The ratings for the NFL’s season opener were significantly lower than the previous year, and anecdotally, many fans have expressed online that they don’t want to watch the games because of the league’s heavy emphasis on social justice demonstrations.

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Colin Kaepernick is not a fan of the NFL’s social justice pandering, calls it ‘propaganda’

Former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who is now a full-time activist, does not approve of the NFL’s social justice presentations, even though they are a progression of the national anthem kneeling protest he started in 2016.

Kaepernick questioned the league’s sincerity and motives in purporting to care for black lives and racial justice, while Eric Reid, Kaepernick’s former teammate, is not on a team roster.

“While the NFL runs propaganda about how they care about Black Life, they are still actively blackballing Eric Reid for fighting for the Black community,” Kaepernick wrote on Twitter on Sunday. “Eric set 2 franchise records last year, and is one of the best defensive players in the league.”

Reid was one of the first players to kneel with Kaepernick during the national anthem when they were teammates on the San Francisco 49ers in 2016. Reid played for the Carolina Panthers in 2019, recording 130 total tackles, 97 solo tackles, and four sacks, playing and starting in all 16 games.

Reid signed a three-year contract extension with the Panthers in February 2019, but was cut in March 2020. Reporting on Reid’s departure indicated that Reid was cut due to the size of his contract. The team also traded quarterback Cam Newton and parted ways with star tight end Greg Olsen.

At the time of his release, Reid did not indicate a belief that there was anything nefarious about the transaction.

“It’s been a pleasure Carolina!” Reid posted the day he was cut. “I enjoyed my time and the support I received from the fans, media, teammates, and staff there will be remembered. Looking forward to furthering my career in another city!”

In his tweet, Kaepernick cites a Deadspin article that claims, without evidence, that Reid is being actively blackballed by owners and the league, who are colluding to keep him unsigned.

Reid was a part of a collusion grievance against the NFL that was launched in 2017 by Kaepernick. The two players settled that grievance for a total of less than $10 million. Due to confidentiality agreements associated with that settlement, we may never know more detail about the situation, and Reid himself may be legally prevented from speaking on it.

Kaepernick has claimed an interest in returning to the NFL, and Nike, which sponsors Kaepernick, has run a #BringBackKap campaign online. However, Kaepernick has not played since 2016, and there is no indication that teams have interest in him, especially after the debacle surrounding his league-arranged tryout last year.

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Gallup: Americans’ opinion of the sports industry has plummeted in the past year

Americans’ opinion of the sports industry has plunged in the past year, according to a recent Gallup poll. Of the 25 U.S. industry sectors examined, only the federal government (-20) and the pharmaceutical industry (-15) had a worse net negative rating than the sports industry (-10). In fact, more people had a very positive or somewhat positive view on pharmaceuticals (34) than the sports industry (30).

A two-week polling sample from August 2019 was compared to a two-week sample in August 2020, and Americans’ opinion of the sports industry declined drastically. There was a drop of 15 points in people who had a very or somewhat positive view of the sports industry, which edged out the travel industry that fell 11 points for the bottom spot.

Based on the recent survey of 1,031 American adults, only 30% of people view the sports industry in a positive light, compared to 40% of Americans who have a negative point of view. In 2019, 45% of Americans held positive feelings for the sports industry and only 25% viewed it negatively.

The nosedive in favorability comes as sports leagues have embraced social justice movements, including Black Lives Matter. The backlash is evident in political bases with positive views from Republicans crashing from +11 in 2019 to -35 in 2020, a devastating 46-point drop. Independents are also shunning sports; going from +26 in 2019 to -10 in 2020, a significant 36-point decrease. Democrats saw a slight decrease from +16 positive rating to a +11 rating.

Non-whites Americans’ positive opinions of the sports industry plummeted from +51 last year to only +16 this year, a 35-point decline. White Americans went from +4 in 2019 to -22 in 2020, a 26-point drop in positive outlook.

“Sports has been acutely affected by the twin events steering news and culture in 2020: the pandemic and the renewed movement for racial justice,” Gallup wrote. “The sports industry’s relationship with fans has been disrupted by the need to shrink its seasons and schedules and play to empty venues as a means of keeping fans and players safe.”

“At the same time, the greater social and political activism of players and, in some cases now, coaching staffs and entire leagues appears to have turned off Americans who disagree with their messages or the way they express them,” the article read. “The net effect at this point has been negative for the industry’s image.”

TV ratings also show fans’ frustrations in sports this year. The NFL suffered a double-digit ratings drop for its season opener that featured an overwhelming amount of social justice activism.

NBA ratings are down 20% during the playoffs. One poll found that 38% of fans are not watching the NBA because it’s “too political.”

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NFL sees double-digit ratings drop for season opener loaded with social justice activism

The NFL’s season-opening game between the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs and the Houston Texans drew disappointing TV ratings fueling continued questions about whether increased political activism in sports is driving fans away.

Preliminary Nielsen ratings show that 16.4 million people tuned in to the Thursday night primetime game, which is a 16% decrease from the number of people who watched last season’s opener between the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears.

Ratings in professional sports have been down since returning from their coronavirus-related hiatus, despite people being more likely to be stuck at home and having been deprived of sports on TV for months. Some fans have expressed a dislike of overt social justice demonstrations that have taken over in football and basketball.

The NFL featured social justice messages in the end zones, a playing of the black national anthem before the game, and players locking arms before the game as social justice messages were broadcast on the scoreboard. And even those efforts were further politicized by the Texans, who stayed in the locker room while the national anthems were played as a protest against “empty gestures.”

There weren’t many fans at the game due to social distancing for COVID-19, but some of the fans in attendance booed players during a moment of silence before the game, apparently displeased with the social justice presentation.

The NBA playoff ratings during the first round were alarmingly low, down 27% from 2019 and 40% from 2018. The NBA’s social justice displays have been even more ubiquitous than the NFL’s. “Black Lives Matter” is painted on the court in large letters for every game, and players display social justice messages on the back of their jerseys while coaches sport “Racial Justice” badges on their shirts.

A recent Harris Poll found that politics has been a top reason people are turning away from the NBA:

A new Harris Poll backs Trump’s critique of the NBA, with 39% of sports fans saying they are watching fewer games. And the chief reason why? Politics. The longtime polling agency surveyed nearly 2,000 people over the weekend and gave people ten options to choose from on why they are watching less basketball.

“The league has become too political” was the clear choice for the decline, with 38% of respondents. “Boring without fans” captured 28% of the vote while the NBA’s association with China caused 19% of sports fans to turn the dial, another nod to a league Trump labeled a “political organization” last week after players boycotted games in response to a police officer shooting Jacob Blake seven times in the back in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

The poll found that Republicans were more likely to be turned off by the league’s politics that Democrats.

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Miami Dolphins to stay in locker room during national anthem and black national anthem pregame ceremonies

The Miami Dolphins will stay in the locker room during the playing of the national anthem and the black national anthem before their 2020 season opener Sunday against the New England Patriots, ESPN reported.

The NFL, attempting to participate in the social and racial justice demonstrations that have escalated over the past four months, will play “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing,” which is known as the black national anthem, as well as “The Star-Spangled Banner” before Week 1 games.

The Dolphins are opting to not participate in either ceremony, saying they’re not interested in any more “empty gestures” that don’t contribute toward real and lasting change.

“This attempt to unify only creates more divide,” Dolphins players said in a video released Thursday. “So we’ll skip this song and dance, and as a team we’ll stay inside. We need changed hearts, not just a response to pressure. Enough, no more fluff and empty gestures. We need owners with influence and pockets bigger than ours to call up officials and flex political power.”

In their video, Dolphins players said they want team owners to use their wealth and political influence to push for legislative change, such as prison and police reform.

Much of the conversation surrounding social justice in the NFL has been hung up on the pregame national anthem. Since former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the anthem to raise awareness about police brutality against minorities, players on numerous teams have continued that protest — a demonstration that is divisive among fans, and has turned some away from the league completely.

The Dolphins players feel the emphasis on symbolic gestures during the national anthem has become an obstacle to substantive social justice reform, so they are responding by performing a different, perhaps more dramatic symbolic gesture during the national anthem, and producing a video to announce it ahead of time.

The game is scheduled at 1 p.m. ET in Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts.

During the NFL season opener Thursday night between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Houston Texans, the Chiefs players stood for the anthem, while the Texans stayed in the locker room. When the two teams locked arms on the field as social justice messages were displayed on the scoreboard before kickoff, some fans booed during a moment of silence.

“I didn’t fully understand that,” Texans defensive end J.J. Watt said of the booing. “There was no flag involved. There was nothing other than two teams coming together to show unity.”

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Colin Kaepernick included in ‘Madden 21’ video game as ‘starting-caliber quarterback’

Colin Kaepernick hasn’t played quarterback in the NFL since 2016, and there’s no indication that he will return this season. Still the popular EA Sports “Madden” video game franchise will include Kaepernick as a player in the 2021 version of the game, the company announced Tuesday.

Not only will Kaepernick be playable in the game, but he will have a higher skill rating than several current high-profile starting quarterbacks in the NFL.

“Colin Kaepernick is one of the top free agents in football and a starting-caliber quarterback,” read a statement on the Madden NFL 21 Twitter page. “The team at EA SPORTS, along with millions of Madden NFL fans, want to see him back in our game. We’ve had a long relationship with Colin through Madden NFL and worked through our past soundtrack mistakes.

“Knowing that our EA SPORTS experiences are platforms for players to create, we want to make Madden NFL a place that reflects Colin’s position and talent, rates him as a starting QB, and empowers our fans to express their hopes for the future of football,” the statement continued. “We’ve worked with Colin to make this possible, and we’re excited to bring it to all of you today.”

Fox News reported that Kaepernick will be rated higher in the game than New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton, Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield, and Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen.

During Kaepernick’s last season with the San Francisco 49ers in 2016, he started 11 games, leading the team to a 1-10 record in those games. He threw 12 touchdowns and four interceptions. He opted out of his contract after the season, hoping to sign a better deal in San Francisco or elsewhere, but was not signed by any team.

Kaepernick, the originator of the national anthem kneeling social justice protests, has claimed he was blackballed from the league for his activism. He settled a grievance with the NFL on that matter, filed with one other player, for less than $10 million total.

The NFL scheduled a workout for Kaepernick in November so he could audition for teams who might be interested in signing him, but the workout was derailed when Kaepernick moved it at the last minute from the set location to a high school field 60 miles from the scheduled location, apparently due to a disagreements over the terms of the workout and matters of legal liability.

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NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell ducks question about national anthem, isn’t concerned about social justice hurting ratings

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell isn’t worried that the league’s heavy social justice emphasis for the upcoming season will hurt television ratings, despite evidence that some fans have been turned off by the NBA’s demonstrations and protests, Goodell told CNBC.

The NFL has long dominated professional sports television ratings in the United States, but there was some belief in past years, particularly in 2017, that national anthem kneeling protests and the controversy surrounding them hurt the league’s ratings. Now that the NFL is embracing, instead of opposing, overt social justice displays, Goodell isn’t concerned.

“Our ratings have really been the envy of every entertainment and sports property,” Goodell told CNBC. “We have the broadest audience, we have the best partners in all of television and media. We feel that ratings always go up and down for a variety of reasons.”

When asked about the issue of national anthem protests, which upset many football fans who believe those demonstrations are disrespectful to the country, Goodell deflected.

“I wonder if you would agree that your own stance as it pertains to social justice has evolved since Kaepernick first took that knee. Certainly your recent interviews suggest that,” CNBC host Carl Quintanilla said to Goodell. “I think some of our viewers want to know whether players will be on the field for the anthem, and whether you as a league and the ownership are willing to withstand any pushback if in fact we do see players take knees.”

“I would tell you that all of us, hopefully, are evolving and learning—we should be—and we all should realize that we have to do more,” Goodell responded. “I’m proud of what our league has done. I said it several months ago that we should’ve listened to our players earlier and been able to understand the things that were going on in our communities. We’re seeing that play out on television sets across the country. They have been happening in our communities for years—decades—and we have to end it.”

Goodell has fully embraced social justice activism by players in recent months, especially since the death of George Floyd in May. He said he was wrong for not listening to and understanding what players were protesting in previous years, and now the league is actively participating in social justice activism. From ESPN:

The NFL is planning extensive content around social injustice for Week 1 of the regular season, sources told ESPN.

Among options discussed by the league and players union, according to a source involved: Players reading personalized poems and delivering first-person vignettes based on experience with social injustice. These stories could be incorporated into game-day broadcasts.

This is in addition to recognizing victims of police brutality on the backs of helmets and playing or performing what’s known as the Black national anthem, “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing,” before the season-opening games, as ESPN senior NFL writer Jason Reid reported in July.

(H/T The Daily Wire)

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NFL QB Kirk Cousins gets ripped by media for lack of fear over COVID-19: ‘If I die, I die’

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins expressed that he has little fear of COVID-19, even if it kills him—sparking outrage from the media over his dismissal of the pandemic, ESPN reported.

Cousins, during a July interview on the “10 Questions with Kyle Brandt” podcast, said he follows the basic rules governing behavior in the era of COVID-19, but he isn’t gripped with fear and anxiety over the virus.

Brandt asked Cousins to rate his COVID-19 anxiety from a scale of 1-10, with 1 meaning “the person who says, ‘Masks are stupid, you’re all a bunch of lemmings,’ and 10 is, ‘I’m not leaving my master bathroom for the next 10 years.'”

Cousins replied that he didn’t want to call anyone stupid for fear of getting in trouble, but said he was a “.000001.”

Here’s what else Cousins had to say about his view of the coronavirus:

“I want to respect what other people’s concerns are. For me personally, just talking no one else can get the virus, what is your concern if you could get it, I would say I’m gonna go about my daily life. If I get it, I’m gonna ride it out. I’m gonna let nature do its course. Survival-of-the-fittest kind of approach. And just say, if it knocks me out, it knocks me out. I’m going to be OK. You know, even if I die. If I die, I die. I kind of have peace about that.

“So that’s really where I fall on it, so my opinion on wearing a mask is really about being respectful to other people. It really has nothing to do with my own personal thoughts.”

During a news conference Wednesday, Cousins attempted to clarify his statement in response to the backlash.

“Admittedly, I did not use the best wording and certainly could’ve articulated it better,” Cousins said. “But the heart behind it is no different than it is today. Admittedly, I probably wasn’t as clear as I would’ve liked to have been. But what I wanted to say then and what I would echo again now is that while the virus does not give me a great amount of personal fear, there’s still great reason for me to engage in wearing a mask and social distancing and washing my hands as frequently as I can and following protocols set in place, obviously to be considerate and respectful of other people.”

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NFL’s Tyler Eifert to honor retired St. Louis cop David Dorn, who was killed during George Floyd riots

Jacksonville Jaguars tight end Tyler Eifert will use the NFL’s new social justice policy to honor David Dorn, a retired St. Louis police officer who was murdered by looters during riots after the police killing of George Floyd, according to Fox News.

Hamilton County Republican Party Chairman Alex Triantafilou tweeted Monday that Eifert would feature Dorn’s name on the back of his helmet at some point this season. Pro Football Talk recently reported that players can feature the name of victims of police brutality or systemic racism on their helmet padding.

Some of the options players will reportedly be able to choose from include George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, three people whose deaths have sparked racial unrest across the country in recent months.

“Got some very good news from former @Bengals player/current @Jaguars player @tylereifert that he will honor fallen police officer David Dorns on his helmet,” Triantafilou tweeted. “Always been a fan of Tyler’s and God bless him!”

Dorn, 77, worked for the St. Louis Police Department for nearly 40 years. After he retired, he worked as a volunteer police chief in Moline Acres, Missouri.

He was friends with a local pawn shop owner, and whenever the alarm went off at the shop, Dorn would be notified and he would go check it out. On June 2, the alarm went off early in the morning after a night of destructive riots. Dorn went to the shop, as he always did. He was shot and killed by one of the burglars who had broken into the shop.

Ann Dorn, David’s wife, told the story of her husband’s murder during the Republican National Convention as a way to condemn the riots that have persisted since late May, when George Floyd was killed by police in Minneapolis.

“I relive that horror in my mind every single day,” Ann said, remembering an officer coming to her door around 4 a.m. to tell her that her husband was dead. “My hope is that having you relive it with me now will help shake this country from this nightmare we are witnessing in our cities and bring about positive, peaceful change.

“This isn’t a video game, where you can commit mayhem and then just hit reset and bring all the characters back to life,” Ann Dorn said. “David is never, never coming back to me. He was murdered by people who didn’t know and just didn’t care. He would’ve done anything to help them.”

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NFL helmets will feature names of victims of police violence and systemic racism this season

The NFL, once openly opposed to overt social justice or political demonstrations, will reportedly allow players to put the name of a victim of police brutality or systemic racism on the back of their helmets this season, according to Pro Football Talk.

Mike Florio writes:

It’s a fairly thick white strip, where multiple organizations currently print the names of their teams. The names of specific persons will be easy to see when TV cameras capture close-up images of players on the field.

The names will come from an approved list, with names like George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery among the possibilities.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has softened his stance toward social justice issues in recent months, notably lamenting the fact that he didn’t listen more to former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick about the issues he was protesting by kneeling during the national anthem.

ESPN reported over the weekend that the NFL was planning “extensive content” around social justice for the season’s opening week of games.

The black national anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing” will be performed before games, and the end zones will feature messages of “End Racism” and “It Takes All of Us.”

Game day broadcasts may include players reading personal poems or telling person stories of their experiences with social injustice or racism.

At least one team, the Arizona Cardinals, has considered a Week 1 boycott of games in protest of the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, ESPN reported.

The NBA has put forward the most overt social justice demonstrations of all the major American professional sports leagues, with players sporting league-approved social justice messages on the back of their jerseys, ranging from “Black Lives Matter,” to “Group Economics.” The words “Black Lives Matter” are featured on the courts during games.

That focus on political activism may be turning some viewers off from the league, however. Despite a presumably strong appetite for sports after the hiatus caused by COVID-19, the NBA’s ratings have been disappointing during its playoff season.

“People are angry about it … they don’t want — they have enough politics with guys like me, they don’t need more,” President Donald Trump said of the league’s struggling ratings, according to the Washington Times. “The NBA is in trouble. I think it’s in big trouble, bigger trouble than they understand.”

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NFL team cancels practice, tells media ‘This country is founded upon racist ideas’

The NFL’s Tennessee Titans canceled practice Thursday and instead held a virtual news conference during which quarterback Ryan Tannehill said the United States is “founded upon racist ideas,” according to the Tennessean.

With the entire team standing behind them, Tannehill and safety Kevin Byard explained why they decided not to practice, and spoke about the changes they want to see.

“We feel that with all the recent events that’s happened in our country, not only just this year, not only the past year, but the past hundreds of years, we decided that it’s time to take a stand today,” Byard said. We feel that with this moment right here, and today, with my brother Ryan [Tannehill] standing next to me and all my brothers standing behind me, we wanted to show solidarity and be unified, and say that we’re tired.”

Byard referenced police brutality against black people, and expressed concern about the environment his young children would grow up in.

“We’re sick and tired of seeing the things that’s been going on, on social media for the entertainment,” Byard continued. “Seeing our black brothers and sisters be murdered by police like it’s nothing, it’s time for a change. … I just had a son, just Sunday. I have a 1-year-old daughter, and I have no clue what I’m going to tell them or what kind of world that they’re going to grow up in, in this country.”

Tannehill spoke after Byard, and called for an end to centuries of systemic oppression in the U.S.

“This country is founded upon racist ideas with slaves being brought here from the day of foundation, and those ideas have persisted throughout the last hundreds of years, and it’s going to take time until we can get those all out,” Tannehill said. “But we’re tired of it. We’re tired of dealing with the systematic oppression. We’re tired of dealing with excessive force. We’re tired of seeing black men and women die in situations where they should be walking home and spending the night with their families. It’s sickening.”

Athletes in the NBA, MLB, and MLS refused to play scheduled games this week after the police shooting of Jacob Blake on Sunday in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The NBA considered cancelling its entire postseason in protest, although it eventually opted to resume play.

Blake was shot seven times in the back during an altercation with police, who had been called by his girlfriend. The girlfriend accused Blake of stealing her keys and refusing to leave. Police shot Blake as he reached into his car, where they say they found a knife on the floor.

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Roger Goodell regrets not listening to Kaepernick more, says anthem kneelers are not unpatriotic

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said he regrets not having more dialogue with former quarterback Colin Kaepernick about social justice issues and said he now understands that players who kneel during the national anthem aren’t being unpatriotic, ESPN reported.

What did he say?

“These are not people who are unpatriotic,” Goodell told ESPN’s Emmanuel Acho on the video series “Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man.” “They’re not disloyal. They’re not against our military. In fact, many of those guys were in the military, and they’re a military family. And what they were trying to do is exercise their right to bring attention to something that needs to get fixed. And that misrepresentation of who they were and what they were doing was the thing that really gnawed at me.”

Acho asked Goodell what he might say in a public apology to Kaepernick, and Goodell cited regret that he was not able to have more conversations with the player who started the social justice protest of kneeling during the national anthem. Goodell said the league should have listened more and really understood what Kaepernick and other players were protesting.

“That’s where we should have listened sooner,” Goodell said. “And that’s where we should have been in there with them, understanding and figuring out what we can do as the NFL.”

What is Kaepernick up to?

Kaepernick has spent the last several years as a high-profile social justice activist. His experience, which many characterize as having been blackballed from the NFL for his protests, has led to a lucrative book deal and several television and documentary opportunities.

The former quarterback stands as an influential voice and symbol in social justice circles, and his statement in the days following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, has proven to be fitting for the unrest that has occurred since.

“When civility leads to death, revolting is the only logical reaction,” Kaepernick wrote in a May 28 tweet that is pinned to the top of his profile. “The cries for peace will rain down, and when they do, they will land on deaf ears, because your violence has brought this resistance. We have the right to fight back!”

There have been protests and riots across the United States almost every night for the past three months, and the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Sunday has sparked new riots in that city the past two nights.

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NFL has 77 false positive COVID-19 results from 11 teams — all from the same lab

Positive COVID-19 tests from 11 teams, all of which were tested in the same New Jersey lab, were ruled to be false positives upon reexamination, according to the Associated Press.

In total, 77 positive tests from a New Jersey lab called BioReference turned out to be false. The initial positives had led teams to cancel or delay practices, and isolate some players to prevent further spread.

The Minnesota Vikings had the most false positives with 12, followed by the New York Jets with 10, and the Chicago Bears with nine. Before the 77 false positives, there had only been four confirmed positive tests for players at training camp.

How did this happen?

The lab claims an isolated contamination caused the false positive results, and says that the issue has been corrected.

“On August 22, BioReference Laboratories reported an elevated number of positive COVID-19 PCR test results for NFL players and personnel at multiple clubs,” Dr. Jon R. Cohen, executive chairman of BioReference, said in a statement. “The NFL immediately took necessary actions to ensure the safety of the players and personnel. Our investigation indicated that these were most likely false positive results, caused by an isolated contamination during test preparation in the New Jersey laboratory. Reagents, analyzers and staff were all ruled out as possible causes and subsequent testing has indicated that the issue has been resolved. All individuals impacted have been confirmed negative and informed.”

What happens now?

Although the news of false positives is good for players and teams, it still causes a significant disruption. Once players test positive, even if it is a false positive, they cannot reenter team facilities until they have taken two more tests and received negative results on both.

The NFL’s COVID-19 policy is still in development as the season approaches. Right now, teams are doing daily testing, but that could change after Sept. 5, depending on what the league decides.

For teams, the false positives were somewhat of a trial run of their protocols, although Cleveland Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski didn’t necessarily appreciate the test. He was listed among the false positives, and wasn’t able to lead Sunday’s practice. He had to stay away from the team’s practice facility.

“It wasn’t fun,” Stefanski said, according to USA Today. “I can laugh about it now, but truly it wasn’t fun to have that phone call very early in the morning and not get the news that it was potentially an error until later. It’s something I take seriously, and our whole goal with our players and our staff is to keep everybody safe.”

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An NFL rookie tries to sneak a woman past the coronavirus lockdown into the Seahawks’ hotel — so the team cuts him

An NFL rookie got caught trying to pass off a woman as another football player in order to get her past the league’s coronavirus lockdown protocols, so he got cut from the team.

The incident occurred at the Seattle Seahawks’ training camp hotel and reportedly involved cornerback Kemah Siverand.

Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network first reported the incident from his social media account.

“The #Seahawks cut rookie CB Kemah Siverand this week after he was caught on video trying to sneak a female visitor into the team hotel, per sources,” Pelissero tweeted.

“Clear message on the responsibility everyone has in the NFL’s COVID-19 world: Put the team at risk, suffer the consequences,” he added.

Pelissero went on to say that the woman had been dressed as a Seahawks player, but the ruse failed.

The coronavirus pandemic is threatening to shut down the entire NFL 2020 season, which is scheduled to commence in September. The league has already taken some steps to mitigate the possibility of spreading the virus, including the excision of the four traditional preseason games.

“You can’t deny love”

Mike Greenburg of ESPN’s “Get Up!” show remarked that the story was undoubtedly funny but also had a serious side since undermining the lockdown could have forced the team to shut down their season. He also noted that Siverand was very unlikely to end up on the team even if he hadn’t been cut.

Former Patriots’ player Rob Ninkovich noted that he had invited someone up to his hotel while he was in the NFL and he ended up marrying her.

“Look, you can’t deny love,” Ninkovich joked, “that’s just the way it is! It’s fate! It’s love, follow your heart!”

Here’s more about the incident:


Seahawks cut rookie Kemah Siverand for trying to sneak a female visitor into the team hotel | Get Up

www.youtube.com

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NFL won’t have live national anthem performances, may bar military and police honor guards from field

The NFL won’t have any live performances of the national anthem before games this season, as it reportedly attempts to limit the number of people with access to the field to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, according to Front Office Sports.

The tradition of having performers sing the national anthem before games has become a source of controversy due to social justice protests. Although the anthem won’t be performed live, there will still be recordings of the song played before the game.

The NFL could also limit the presence of military and police honor guards on the field. Those groups are often a part of the national anthem ceremony at games.

While there may be less ceremony surrounding the national anthem in the NFL in 2020, there will be more in the way of social justice protests and signs of support for anti-racism initiatives. From ESPN’s The Undefeated:

“Lift Ev’ry Voice And Sing,” traditionally known as the Black national anthem, is expected to be performed live or played before every Week 1 NFL game, and the league is considering a variety of other measures during the upcoming season to recognize victims of police brutality, a source familiar with the league’s discussions told The Undefeated on Thursday.

The song would be performed before “The Star-Spangled Banner,” the source said. The NFL’s season opener is scheduled for Sept. 10, with the Kansas City Chiefs hosting the Houston Texans.

Having recently displayed increased awareness about the problems of systemic racism, the NFL, in collaboration with the NFL Players Association, is also considering listing the names of victims on uniforms through decals on helmets or patches on jerseys. The NFL also may produce educational programs about victims, among other plans.

The NFL will also place social justice messages in the end zones during Week 1 instead of the typical team brand imagery, including “End Racism” and “It Takes All of Us.”

President Donald Trump has continued his criticism of national anthem protests in the NFL and NBA, telling Outkick’s Clay Travis that he would rather the seasons not be played than for players to protest during the anthem.

“Well, they wanna open and they wanna open badly,” Trump said. “They’ve been working with government. I would say this, if they don’t stand for the national anthem I hope they don’t open. But other than that, I would love to see them open and we’re doing everything possible for them getting them open. I think they can protest in other ways. They shouldn’t protest our flag or our country.”

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Finalized NFL COVID-19 rules forbid players from … attending sporting events over safety concerns. Ban on church attendance lifted.

The NFL and the NFL Players Association finally settled this week on terms for the 2020 season concerning COVID-19 rules and protocols, and one item on the discipline schedule that appears to be flying under the radar was highlighted by WBZ-TV’s Michael Hurley.

According to the published agreed-to league policies designed to help slow the spread of the coronavirus and keep players safe, NFL players are banned from attending professional sporting events — except for NFL games or events.

Yes, the NFL will punish players for attending sporting events because the league believes such behavior will exacerbate the virus’ spread.

However, the NFL is still selling tickets, so at least fans will still be able to attend.

What are the new rules?

Tom Pelissero, a reporter with the NFL Network, which is owned and operated by the NFL, reported Monday that the league and the players’ union had agreed to a final COVID-19 discipline schedule for the 2020 season. The agreement outlines “High Risk Covid-19 Conduct” for which players can be fined and suspended without pay for uptimes to four weeks. The safety concerns are so great, there will be no first-offense warnings for players who violate the conduct rules.

The first four items on the High Risk Covid-19 Conduct list are not unexpected: no night clubs with more than 10 people; no indoor bars with more than 10 people; no house gatherings of more than 15 people; and no indoor music concerts.

What stood out to Hurley was item No. 5 on the list: “Attending a professional sporting event (other than applicable NFL games or events) unless the player is seated in a separated seating section, such as a suite or owner’s box, is wearing PPE, and there are no more than 10 people in that separate seating section.”

Apparently, the NFL believes attending sporting events the way a normal fan would can boost the spread of COVID-19 and is not safe.

But it’s not so dangerous that the NFL will stop selling tickets to games.

Hurley noted:

And if you saw this inclusion on the list and figured that it meant there’s no way in heck that the league will still be trying to sell as many tickets to fans in 2020, then you are likely mistaken. Only the Jets and Giants have ruled out fans from attending games in 2020. The rest of the league is putting together various contingency plans to try to get as many fans into their buildings as possible, so long as local governments allow it. …

Granted, the NFL only believes it’s safe for players to attend sporting events if those players are in a suite, with a maximum of 10 people, all of whom must be wearing face coverings. Fans? Well, the safety rules are different for fans … because their money goes toward the NFL’s bottom line. While sitting in the stands among the commoners may be dangerous for NFL players, it’s perfectly safe — ehhhh, it’s safe enough — for the paying customer.

What about the church ban?

The NFL came under fire in July over a proposal that would have listed indoor church services as one of the banned activities.

Apparently the players were not going to stand for a ban on religious services, so the line was removed from the final deal, as reported by Pelissero.

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NFL legend Herschel Walker blasts athletes supporting Black Lives Matter movement: ‘I’m for American Lives Matter because I’m an American’

NFL legend Herschel Walker says he fully supports “American lives matter” — because he is an American first and foremost.

Walker has also spoken out in condemnation of kneeling protests over the last several days.

What are the details?

In a Monday night social media post, Walker detailed what he referred to as a disturbing incident that he witnessed Sunday night during a workout.

He captioned the now-viral video, “America wake up … if we love our Country, let’s speak up, stand up and protect it!”

“I saw a bunch of people holding a BLM sign burning the Holy Bible, flag of the United States of America, and a cross,” he said. “I started thinking, NFL, NBA, WNBA, MLB — is this the people you’re supporting right now? Is it the movement? Is it the organization? Because I don’t think that’s right.”

He continued, “We cannot continue to sweep stuff underneath the rug because sooner or later we’re going to stumble. People, are we being fooled?”

That same evening, Walker appeared on Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle,” where he blasted athletes for supporting the Black Lives Matter movement.

He also defended Jonathan Isaac, prominent NBA player who refuses to kneel, and insists it’s his duty to respect God and country.

“Why does a player need to decide who he is for?” he asked. “What BLM are you supporting? … The organization is not something that speaks for a lot of people.”

He later added, “I’m for ‘American Lives Matter’ because I’m an American.”

‘What is your endgame?’

The Heisman Trophy winner from Georgia has been very vocal about the national anthem protests over the last several days.

On Saturday, Walker told Fox News’ Jeannine Pirro that it “hurts” to see professional athletes taking a knee during the national anthem.

“We were taking a knee a couple years ago and what did it accomplish? I said, ‘Guys, what is your endgame? What do you want? No one is saying what they want,” Walker reasoned. “I saw where they say they want justice for Breonna [Taylor] and I do too, but what does that mean? Why don’t people give solutions rather than do things against the greatest country, which is the United States of America?”

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Former NFL star Larry Johnson posts bizarre anti-Semitic conspiracy theory on Twitter with zero repercussions

Former Kansas City Chiefs running back Larry Johnson posted a bizarre anti-Semitic conspiracy theory rant on Twitter and has apparently faced zero repercussions over it.

Johnson was criticizing ESPN sports commentator Max Kellerman for knocking down anti-Semitic conspiracy theories claiming Jews controlled the media and other industries.

The former NFL star implied that a “Jewish cabal” participated in human trafficking, sex trafficking, pedophilia, ritualistic child torture, perversion, human sacrifice and murder.

Kellerman, who is also Jewish,
demanded that Philadelphia Eagles player DeSean Jackson explain how he spread anti-Semitic messages even after he apologized for what he posted.

“Jews do not have a plan for world domination. I have no plan for world domination. And there’s no secret cabal with some plan for world domination,” Kellerman
said in July.

“You couldn’t uplift African Americans without singling out Jews falsely for having some kind of conspiracy to keep Black people down?” Kellerman asked.

‘Babylonian occult practitioners of pagan idolatry’

Johnson went on to make the claim that African-Americans were in the true lineage of the Israelites and that the Jews were not.

“Before the ‘Abrahamic ‘religion,’ which is stupid in itself because Israelites (Shemites) aren’t a religion. The Nephilim tainted line of HAM were the first Babylonian occult practitioners of pagan idolatry. AA’s you are not Hamites, you’re more Shemitic,” he
explained helpfully.

Television show host Nick Cannon
made similar claims in his own anti-Semitic rant on his YouTube show. He later apologized for the comments.

“Adrenochrome, Pizzagate…Qanon”

Johnson also appeared to defend other conspiracy theories that have gained popularity on social media platforms.

“Just like clockwork, Anything involving Hollywood, Adrenochrome, Pizzagate, its a Right Wing, QAnon, conspiracy… This is their way of saying ‘White People Crazy,'” tweeted Johnson.

“Instead of debating the proof, they label it a conspiracy and anti-Semitic,” said Johnson. “It’s TIRED.”

Many excoriated Johnson for the bizarre conspiracy theory, including CNN’s Jake Tapper who
tweeted, “Larry Johnson continuing to spread his anti-Semitic garbage. What a disgrace.”

Johnson previously posted a rant in August
complaining about an “effeminate agenda” in the NBA and NFL that he said had to do with the “buying power of the LGBTQ community.”

Non-response from Twitter

TheBlaze requested a comment from Twitter but the social media company did not respond to the request.

The former running back had numerous arrests for domestic violence when he played on the Chiefs’ team. In
an 2017 interview, Johnson said he was battling with headaches, memory loss, and believed that his violent outbursts could be due to CTE, a devastating brain injury found in some NFL players.

Here’s more about Johnson’s past:


Former NFL RB Larry Johnson: I Believe I Have CTE | SI Wire | Sports Illustrated

www.youtube.com

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NFL players can be fined for church attendance under league’s COVID-19 policy

NFL players could be fined, docked game checks, and lose contract guarantees for attending indoor church services that are too crowded, Pro Football Talk reported.

The rule is among restrictions agreed to between the NFL and the players union as they prepare for the 2020 season in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio writes:

Per multiple sources, the deal specifically prohibits players from engaging in certain behaviors this season. Players cannot attend indoor night clubs, indoor bars (except to pickup food), indoor house parties (with 15 or more people), indoor concerts, professional sporting events, or indoor church services that allow attendance above 25 percent of capacity.

Players can be fined for violating these rules. Moreover, if they test positive after engaging in prohibited activities, they will not be paid for the games they miss. Also, future guarantees in their contracts would be voided.

The NFL is looking to avoid the kind of disruption that Major League Baseball is currently dealing with because half the players and several coaches on the Miami Marlins tested positive for COVID-19. As a result, two of MLB’s teams have been temporarily isolated, and the league is scrambling to rearrange its schedule.

NFL teams are much larger than professional basketball teams, making a plan like the NBA’s Orlando bubble unfeasible for the NFL. Therefore, the NFL’s plan relies heavily on personal responsibility and accountability by players.

Even in the NBA’s restrictive bubble, where all NBA players, coaches, team staff, and selected members of the media are living and playing within the Disney World campus, players haven’t always stayed in line. The NBA season begins Friday.

Lou Williams of the Los Angeles Clippers will miss a couple of games after getting caught violating league rules by going to a strip club, allegedly to pick up food. He will have to quarantine for 10 days.

The NFL rules will allow players to go to bars to pick up food if they choose.

It’s worth noting that when college football workouts began in June, teams saw numerous positive COVID-19 tests. Those positive results caused some teams to pause workouts, but they did not result in serious illness or the derailing of plans to go forward with the season—although there is some consideration being given to playing it in the spring.

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